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Real Estate Roundup with Sharon Alva: A little update

Submitted by on 1, April 9, 2010 – 5:00 amNo Comment

Just got back from Israel. After two weeks with the family I have to say that real estate is no less a discussion in Tel Aviv as it is in the Bay Area. And prices? Well, let’s just say Tel Aviv makes Alameda look like a real bargain. A three bedroom flat in Tel Aviv with around 1,000 to 1,200 square feet goes for around $750,000. And there is nothing fancy about these units.

Coming back here every house looks like a steal. But in fact the bargains may be slipping away. According to the MLS in 2009 in the month of March, 20 properties were sold, 13 of which were detached homes. The median price for a detached home in that same month was $555,000.

In 2010 if we look at the parallel statistics, 40 transactions closed, 29 of which were detached homes. The median price was $627,000.

As we all know these kind of numbers are just a snapshot, but the volume and price point has been edging up. Properties are still being listed way below market values and creating the kind of multiple offers and overbidding we associate with the first half of the decade.

This upward movement is good for sellers, but what about some good news for buyers?

Loans are still fantastic, with 30 year conventional loans going at 5 percent. And FHA loans are available so buyers can jump in with just 3.5 percent down.

And overall, inventory in Alameda is growing. We are up to 120 active residential listings in town. That may lead to less multiple offers and a better chance of actually buying a place for qualified buyers.

And as far as that crazy overbidding, remember that many properties are being listed below market value and the overbids are just bringing the price back to a realistic market level. The appraisal process has changed, and while lenders and real estate professionals have to manage the new regulations and sometimes nonsensical process there is an upside to the changes. Market values are being held to conservative increases as appraisers refuse to accept outlandish offers, especially on loans with a high loan to value ratio.

As a reminder to those of you actively searching: The deadline for taking advantage of the federal home buyer tax credit is looming. You need to be in contract by April 30 and close by June 30 to qualify.

Sharon Alva is a jetlagged real estate agent with Alain Pinel, living in Alameda. You can reach her at sharon@alvaproperties.com.

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